Letters to the Prison - Week 139

Hello, everyone.  We’re grateful for this opportunity to consider God’s word with you.
As we continue our study of John 12, we see in verse 16 yet another glimpse of the retrospect nature of what John has written.  He acknowledges that Jesus’ disciples (including himself) “did not understand” many things about what Jesus said and did, at first --like riding into Jerusalem on a young donkey—but remembered such things and their connection to Old Testament prophecy only after the events occurred.  John, writing this account in 90-95AD, has had some 60 years to reflect on what’s happened… to consider the Scriptures… and to reminisce with other eyewitnesses.  This intense life-long consideration under the guidance of the Holy Spirit gave John profound insight into the history of our Lord and Savior.  But who were these other eyewitnesses?  We catch a glimpse of them in verse 17:

•The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness. -John 12:17

So here is a substantial group of nameless witnesses to the fact that Lazarus was raised from the dead.  These people didn’t vanish when the story was over… and they didn’t forget what happened…  they were loudly and boldly proclaiming what Jesus had done… probably for the rest of their lives.  At the very least they were proclaiming what had happened to the people of Jerusalem, which is what draws the much larger crowd that met Jesus (John 12:12, 19).  We’re observing two distinct crowds, here:  The crowd that personally witnessed the resurrection of Lazarus, and the much larger crown that heard their testimony and rushed to meet and greet Jesus.
At various points during our study, we’ve had the opportunity to observe the perils of “crowd mentality.”  This moment will prove to be no less perilous.  This large crowd welcoming Jesus as their Messiah, Savior, and King is joyful, full of promise and hope and has the outward appearance of being sincere in their belief about who Jesus is.  They’re so convincing in their outward excitement about Jesus, in fact, that they convince the Pharisees:

•So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.”-John 12:19
Still, what we will eventually find out about this crowd is that they are fickle…  easily swayed by “popular opinion” and quick to abandon the man they are greeting and welcoming as their King, Messiah, and Savior.  Maybe some of them are truly sincere in their belief.  We’ll meet at least 120 true believers after these events are over (Acts 1:15).  But the majority are just following the crowd… doing what seems to be the popular and largely acceptable thing to do.  And the Pharisees are convinced by their behavior.  False teachers convinced and concerned by the outward appearance of false believers…  is that like us?  Or not?
Friends, we would like to encourage you… and pray that we too would be encouraged:  Think for yourselves.  Know what you believe and act faithfully according to those beliefs… no matter what the rest of the world is doing.  There is so much power and influence in a crowd… in a “majority.”  And, alarmingly, just because a bunch of people act a certain way doesn’t mean they all believe accordingly…  this should inform how we approach people from all sides of any debate.  Interestingly, an unusual group of people is about to approach Jesus.  We’ll look at that next week.  Until then, ask yourselves:  How certain are you of what you believe?  We love you!  

Dean A.

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